Director – Boris Mojsovski, Screenplay – Ognen Georgievski & Boris Mojsovski, Producers – Boris Mojsovski, Ingrid Veninger & Srdjan Vilotijevic, Photography – Levko Mojsovski, Music – Aleksander Pejovski, Production Design – Bob Sher. Production Company – A Thousand Lights Dark Inc
Greg Bryk (Neil/Alexander), Mary Krohnert (Anna), Ingrid Veninger (Donna), Barbara Gordon (Kate), Jasmin Gerljo (Davor), Zorana Kydd (Major Tamara Lotsky)
Neil is a young man who is afflicted with premature aging. He also suffers from intense agoraphobia and so his mother Kate has brought an entire building where Neil can roam free inside. Neil is tended by a psychologist Donna who tries to help him get over his fear of going outside. Kate has also been inspiring Neil to experiment with astral projection as a means of visiting the outside world and he has been having some success with this. Military officers then arrive and demand that Neil teach them the secrets of astral projection. When Neil refuses, they reveal that they paid for the building and instituted Donna there. While he sleeps, Neil is visited by a mystery woman who insists that he is her husband Alexander and that they lived together in Sarajevo before the war.
Neil is an arthouse release from Canada. The film appears to have been shot, cast and put together with a crew from among an East European immigrant community (at least going by the names on the credits). Director Boris Mojsovski is himself an emigre from Sarajevo, while his co-writer Ognen Georgievski hails from Macedonia.
The problem with Neil is that it has a number of themes and elements – cloning, experiments in astral projection, a story structure that involves a protagonist’s conceptual breakthrough about his world – that would make for a good science-fiction film. Unfortunately, director/co-writer Boris Mojsovski has chosen to make it as an arthouse film. The material could have worked well if it had been made with an awareness of genre confines and pacing, even as a B-budget film. Instead, Boris Mojsovski has pitched the film to the indie crowd and this is an approach that almost entirely kills all possibilities that Neil has as a science-fiction or even an interesting film. Alas even the indie crowd didn’t seem interested in the film – as far as one knows, this is the only review of Neil that exists on the web.
Everything has been filmed in slow, deliberate shots. It is all laid over by a piano and string quartet score – the sort that is usually played as subdued background muzak in the lobbies of expensive hotels. Nothing dramatic ever seems to happen – the film is almost all slow mood and vague, cryptic exchanges between actors, the sort where the audience watching are not invited to participate but left guessing. The film has been dressed with a total minimalism – though it takes place in a multiple-story building, the various rooms are bare and the dressings completely spartan. You get the feeling that the set dresser was engaged in a competition to see if they could compact all that was needed to outfit the film into a single suitcase.
The first half of the film seems interminably dull but it does pick up somewhat during the second when Boris Mojsovski starts to put some conceptual spins on what is happening [PLOT SPOILERS] – where it is revealed that everything has been set up by the military, including Neil’s relationship with his psychologist; where the mystery ghost woman (Mary Krohnert) visits the hero (Greg Bryk) and tells him about his past life married to her in Croatia; and where Neil’s ‘mother’ reveals that he is a clone. There is one haunting scene where Greg Bryk is forced to undertake a demonstration and show Ingrid Veninger how to astrally project and as she leaves her body, the ghostly Mary Krohnert appears and sinisterly leads her off to a room, while behind Veninger’s body expires. The film reaches a frustrating non-ending where Greg Bryk finally overcomes his agoraphobia and leaves the building, goes to visit his aging donor self, puts poison in the donor’s drink and the film fades out as he toasts his other self as they drink the poison.